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The folking review team is a small, dedicated group of people with a passion and a commitment for the folk, acoustic and Americana music scene. They review the latest releases, each in their own inimitable style…

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DUNCAN McCRONE – Colourblind (Circular Records CR1039)

This CD had remained on my ‘to do’ list for quite a while so I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise to Duncan for the lateness in the review’s eventual arrival…and also to PR man Bob Buchan for reminding me to check it out. Opening with the bright and ...
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RACHEL HAIR TRIO – No More Wings (March Hair Records MHRCD003)

One of my earliest experiences of performance harp was by ‘Harpo’ Marx in the film “A Day At The Races” and again in a film that the title escapes me. The only reason I mention this is at the way he exploited genres such as classical, folk and jazz to ...
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KYLE CAREY – Monongah (Self-Released)

A bit like President Obama I feel that Ms Carey is a ‘nice’ person. It’s not that I know her personally of course but judging her on the merits of this album I feel that all is right with the world. This could also have something to do with the ...
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THE WEBB SISTERS – Savages (PRPCD079)

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!”…so said Sir Walter Scott. And indeed, the web that sisters Charley and Hattie use to spread their wordy songs can indeed tangle their audience in knots but in such a refreshing way that we can easily dismiss ...
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ALLAN YN Y FAN – Pwnco (Steam Pie Records SPCD10165)

Medieval…that’s how I’d describe the music of the Welsh band Allan Yn Y Fan on hearing the first track “Death In Ennis/The Audient” of their latest CD. Not in an arcane way but, if you get my drift it’s the kind of music that you’d expect at a banquet with ...
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TALIS KIMBERLEY – The Hearth And The Hive – OWN LABEL

Folk is a minority interest music and at its fringe is filk, that undefined and undefinable genre to which Talis Kimberley can be said to belong. That is not to denigrate her in any way – I wish I’d discovered her years ago. If you’re puzzled by the word “filk” ...
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JON AIRDRIE & THE SHELLEYS – Something’s Cooking – OWN LABEL

Jon Airdrie’s previous album with The Shelleys was a download set designed, I presume, to raise funds for the next project. If so he spent the money wisely because Something’s Cooking is an intriguing album that deserves to be widely heard. Jon and the band are from south Wales and ...
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Babajack ROOSTER – KROSSBORDER REKORDS KBR20121

“Chooglin’” was the term that Creedence Clearwater Revival coined for their sound and if you can imagine an acoustic choogle, that how BabaJack sound. It’s not folk, it’s not blues and it’s not rock’n’roll but it incorporates elements of all of them. Rooster is the third album from the Malvern-based ...
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ALTAN – The Poison Glen (Compass Records 4571)

There’s something reassuring about coming across a lyric or melody that you’re used to hearing even if it’s not in your native tongue. Such is the case with the track “Seolta Geala” and in as much as I’ve come to associate it with the gustily delivered shanty “Rio Grande” I ...
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Gráinne Holland – Teanga na nGael

West Belfast's Gráinne Holland bursts on to the scene with this impressive debut recording, boasting confident, avant-garde interpretations of largely traditional Gaelic songs, with a full-bodied voice that instils a rich vibrancy, and broad appeal. Opening with the rhythmic cadence of "A Bhean Údaí Thall," Gráinne's perfectly poised vocal stamps a commanding authority on ...
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DAVID GIBB and ELLY LUCAS – Old Chairs To Mend (Hairpin Records 002)

David Gibb and Elly Lucas are an exciting young duo who play a mixture of original and re‐worked traditional folk material. They hail from Derbyshire in the Midlands and have previously toured the UK extensively as part of David Gibb & The Pony Club. David plays the guitars, melodeon and ...
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LITHA – Dancing Of The Light (ARCD 3045)

A few years ago I had the pleasure of reviewing the 2Duos outstanding debut CD. Since then they’ve changed their name to Litha but whatever title they choose, this certainly is a 4-piece more than capable of carving out their own unique slice of Celtic ‘folk’ history given half a ...
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THE HUT PEOPLE – Picnic (Fellside Recordings FECD248)

So, here it is a welcome return to my favourite drum and squeezebox duo. Mind you, to my knowledge I don’t think there are any others I’ve missed? Starting with a sprightly “Shoes In Black” (good choice of tune lads) with its loaded syncopation and spot-on triplets played at a ...
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KEITH KENDRICK & SYLVIA NEEDHAM – Well Dressed (Wild Goose Records WGS 387CD)

I count myself very lucky to work on occasions with Keith Kendrick & Sylvia Needham as members of the music ‘crew’ providing entertainment onboard HMS Warrior, Portsmouth. Many’s the times we’ve shared a good joke together whilst either singing or playing in an informal session and that comes across in ...
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KATE RUSBY – While Mortals Sleep (Pure Records PRCD34)

Only 292 days to Christmas... Avoiding the cliché of echoing the ending of each line of “Cranbrook” (“While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night”) set to its original melody and pinched by Yorkshire for the setting of “On Ilkley Moor Baht’at” this jaunty start to Kate’s second seasonal offering proves a joyous ...
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JIM MORAY – Skulk (NIBL013)

Perhaps its Moray’s numerous tales of brushes with death on previous recordings that inspired him to use the collective noun for foxes ‘Skulk’ as the title of his latest CD. Or maybe you’ve just seen the series “Whitechapel” on TV? Whatever the reason, his opening choice of song “The Captain’s ...
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MAIREAD NI MHAONAIGH – Imeall (Moon1)

I first met the beautiful Irish chanteuse Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh in 1978 when she performed at St Mary’s Church Hall in Hastings (rather uncharitably re-christened ‘the bomb factory’…you work it out…by the local residents of the town) whilst working with the fledgling acoustic group Altan. Since then of course the ...
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MAIREAD NI MHAONAIGH – Imeall (Moon1)

I first met the beautiful Irish chanteuse Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh in 1978 when she performed at St Mary’s Church Hall in Hastings (rather uncharitably re-christened ‘the bomb factory’…you work it out…by the local residents of the town) whilst working with the fledgling acoustic group Altan. Since then of course the ...
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SPIRO – Kaleidophonica (REAL WORLD CDRW188)

With this new album Spiro have moved their music to the next stage. Rather than beginning with traditional themes and taking them to strange places, their new compositions are all original but incorporate some traditional tunes. Having said that, the traditional tunes are so obscure that the layman would be ...
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WEST OF EDEN – Safe Crossing (West Of Music WOMCD7)

A welcome return of the Swedish based sextuplet West Of Eden for this, their seventh album. On hearing the first bars of the opening track “Haul Away” you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’d just walked into a session with Fisherman’s Friends such is the force of the multi-layered wall ...
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OONAGH DERBY – Harmony Street (KTM Records KTM001)

In a way Oonah Derby’s story reflects Irish chanteuse Mary Black’s transformation as singer for General Humbert to her more elevated position as a conveyer of contemporary songs. Having come via a traditional music grounding in the band ‘Nua’ Derby has slipped effortlessly into the mantle of singer-songwriter in collaboration with guitarist ...
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HANNAH JAMES & SAM SWEENEY – State And Ancientry – ROOTBEAT RECORDS RBRCD13

So much has happened to Hannah and Sam since they released Catches & Glees that I’m almost surprised to find them still working together. Sam has joined Bellowhead and Jon Boden’s Remnant Kings while Hannah has formed Lady Maisery and has joined Hell Said The Duchess with Karen Tweed while continuing to ...
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KAREN TWEED – Essentially Invisible To The Eye – MAY MORNING ADVENTURES MMA6327002

“A novel, an autobiography, a casserole and as close to a self portrait as I am able to create”: Karen Tweed’s own words on the cover of this remarkable solo album. Traditional tunes, original compositions and music from all over the world come together in five long sets. For the ...
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IONA – Another Realm (Open Sky Records OPENSKY 16)

I’ll only mention it once (and believe me, it’s a compliment) that when Clannad released their album “Robin Of Sherwood” in 1984 they were to prove inspirational not only to me but they also opened the door to a far wider demographic than ‘folk music’ could ever achieve on its ...
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A new Albion Band album… The Vice of The People

Alongside Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention, The Albion Band are one of the “Big Three” of English Folk Rock, fusing traditional British songs and tunes with contemporary instruments and sounds. All three were formed by legendary band leader Ashley Hutchings. Generally considered one of the most important groupings in the genre, The Albion ...
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ACOUSTIC STRAWBS – Rock Plaza, Sevenoaks 04.02.12

Our friends’ at Brandywine Music are putting on some tremendous acts at venues across Kent and Sussex and tonight was no exception. OK, so it might not perhaps have been the full punnet of Strawbs but it proved more than enough for the attendant audience on what turned out to be an extremely ...
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TREACHEROUS ORCHESTRA – Origins (Navigator Records NAVIGATOR062)

Now, that’s more like it…an album that is driven by pure energy! Rather than hide behind the word ‘art’ as some form of defence the Treacherous Orchestra totter dangerously close to the edge without ever once falling off the precipice. With the colours of their Scottish roots proudly nailed to ...
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Phil Beer Box Set Revisited

I wanted to remind you all of the fantastic body of work Phil released in 2010, which was known commonly as “Box Set 1”. The work would suit both Beer aficionados, Show of Hands fans and anyone that has seen Phil play live. The work, as a whole, is a great ...
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GREN BARTLEY – Songs To Scythe Back The Overgrown (FELLSIDE FECD247)

When Tom Kitching and Gren Bartley went their separate ways after a successful partnership there was a feeling of inevitability about the directions they took. Tom formed Pilgrim’s Way and stuck with mostly traditional material and now Gren has taken the solo singer-songwriter route. Songs To Scythe Back The Overgrown ...
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BELLOWHEAD – The Orchard Theatre, Dartford 28.01.12

Dartford is an unforgiving one-way nightmare – let my mate Les Elvin tell you about it sometime. Arriving at The Orchard Theatre just as Bellowhead were starting neither of us were in the best of moods but our frayed tempers were immediately put at ease by the brash delights of the ...
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BRAM TAYLOR – Jokers And Rogues (Fellside Recordings FECD246)

With the current trend from younger artists trying to be cool by writing ultra-clever lyrics with instrumental arrangements to match isn’t it refreshing to hear ‘folk’ music the way it used to be? No frills, just good, down to earth performances and songs which are easy on the ear. OK, ...
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VARIOUS ARTISTS – Big River Big Songs (Mawson-Wareham Music MWMDVD78)

Perhaps this tremendous DVD should be re-titled “Big Hearts, Big Soul” such is the impact it’s had on me! It goes without saying that Geordie-land has spawned some of this country’s best musicians and actors and (as if you needed any) here is proof that artists the calibre of Kevin ...
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BREABACH – Bann (Breabach Records BRE002CD)

This album reminds me of the first time I encountered The Tannahill Weavers in 1978 having just recruited the wild excesses of piper Alan MacLeod in a musty upstairs room at a pub in Hampstead. The reason I mention this is that at the time the pipes not only fascinated ...
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MIRANDA SYKES & REX PRESTON – HANDS ON MUSIC HMCD035

Miranda and Rex play together in other Celtic bluegrass projects. Miranda is, of course, well known as the third member of Show Of Hands and Rex is a rising star in mandolin-playing circles, working with Cara Dillon and Brian Finnegan. It’s clear from the start that their backgrounds have shaped ...
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O’HOOLEY & TIDOW – The Fragile – NO MASTERS NMCD39

After their stunning debut, Silent June, expectations were high for Belinda and Heidi’s second album and they haven’t let us down. Facebook fans have followed the progress of the record and already heard the single, ‘The Last Polar Bear’, a song that works as a plea for ecological sanity and ...
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SUZY BOGGUSS – American Folk Songbook CD and Songbook (Loyal Dutchess Records LDR 1006)

When I took my first faltering steps into the world of ‘folk’ music my music teacher presented me with a book of American folk songs edited by Alan Lomax. That memory is once again evoked by this glorious collection of songs and what better way than to reminisce than with ...
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LE VENT DU NORD – Symphonique (TRCD 3029)

Now, here’s a band that, although ‘folk’ based aren’t too worried to put a slightly commercial twist to their performance. Incorporating a bit of jazz and with the help of a (predominantly) strings based orchestra this is a seriously well produced recording. With the component parts of the band Nicolas ...
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Butlins’ 2011 Great British Folk Festival – Review by Peterborough & South Lincs Folk Diary…

You have to admit that, when you take the money into account, Butlins' 2011 Great British Folk Festival was good value. We enjoyed Bob Fox, Steve Tilston, P. J. Wright, Dave Pegg, Anthony John Clarke, Chumbawamba, Jane Taylor, Seth Lakeman & Richard Digance particularly, and probably Ralph McTell had we not ...
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PATSY MATHESON – STORIES OF ANGELS AND GUITARS TRCD2

The new album from former Waking the Witch member Patsy Matheson, has taken the music world by storm, not yet released but already greatly applauded by industry insiders. All 10 songs on the album have been written by Patsy who has also played a number of the instruments on the tracks.  Hugh ...
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BELSHAZZAR’S FEAST – The West End Centre, Aldershot – 15th December 2011

There are some people who don’t get Belshazzar’s Feast. One on-line reviewer wrote: “they humorously shamble their way through a mix of traditional and original tunes, only using the minimum energy required to play their instruments. Mistakes are laughed off and forgiven by the friendly crowd. There's no bells and ...
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CHARLIE DORE – Cheapskate Lullabyes (Black Ink Music BICD6)

I suppose it must be at least 20 years since I saw a live performance (I believe it was The Hope & Anchor in Islington) by Charlie Dore. Things haven’t changed much in as much that I think she’s still one of this country’s finest singer/songwriters including previous hits “Pilot ...
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ALBION CHRISTMAS BAND – A Sound In The Frosty Air (Rooksmere Records RRCD104)

I've just had to slag off a certain ‘folk’(???) band for daring to ruin our traditional songs by taking liberties with the arrangements and smothering the vocals. What a delight then to put on this recording and immediately be seduced by the honeyed tones of Kellie While on an acapella rendition ...
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Christy Moore – Folk Tale (Sony Music Ireland)

It's quite possible that there couldn't be a more fitting title for this album, and not just because it's the title of one of the songs contained therein. Christy can legitimately lay claim to being the epitome of the living, breathing folk 'process'; indeed, one of the most rewarding aspects ...
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MOONSHEE – Moonshee (Park Records PRKCD114)

I suppose the mark of any good CD is when you can play it to your mates (even those not remotely interested in ‘folk’) whilst grooving like an ‘acoustic’ version of Bill & Ted in the car and you can play it loud (if you’re so inclined) without offending passers-by. OK, so ...
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TOM MORIARTY – Fire In The Doll’s House – DRIFTWOOD RECORDS DRIFTW00

I wonder how many artists get to record their debut album at Abbey Road these days. Not many, I suspect, which says a lot for Tom Moriarty and his producer Ian Grimble who made it happen. Tom is a musician who was forced to make a “straight” living before turning ...
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MACMASTER/HAY – Love And Reason (MDM Records MDMC001)

We in the ‘folk’ world are blessed with inventive musicians and although, it must be said that the coupling of vocals, harp and drums (or more correctly percussion and programming) hadn’t occurred to me, it had to MacMaster and Donald Hay. And work very effectively it does too. The reason it ...
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STEELEYE SPAN – Now We Are Six Again (Park Records PRKCD113)

Who said you can’t re-live your youth? Well, I certainly have by going back to 1974. Was it really that long ago that Steeleye first released “Now We Are Six” having been rather unceremoniously roughed up by the ‘folk’ police in the process. After all who would have the tenacity ...
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Tales from the Barrel House – Seth Lakeman folking album review

Seth Lakeman’s hotly anticipated new album – Tales from the Barrel House has now arrived on the streets and it’s HOT! All 10 tracks are Seth’s self penned and performed which include layers of his own vocals sandwiched together with various Seth style instrumental arrangements, including a hammer on an ...
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Mary Black – Stories From the Steeples (3ú Records / Blix Street Records)

This is the first studio recording from Mary Black in six years, and it's a collection that demonstrates an artist in full command of her bewitching vocal prowess. Throughout an impressive career, Mary has consistently demonstrated impeccable taste in her choice of material, and the evidence presented here suggests that ...
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PECSAETAN MORRIS – At One With The Bells – Seville House Records SEVCD02

There are always new ways making records. We've had ‘sequester a bunch of songwriters in a lonely house and give them a week to write a complete stage show and album’ and now we’re in the midst of ‘record it live off the floor’ – which is pretty much what Bill Leader ...
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TIM READMAN & JENNIE BICE – Out Of The Green – Big City BC021

An album of British traditional and modern songs by a Canadian artist is an intriguing prospect. Even more intriguing is Tim Readman’s track record which embraces every influence available between Newcastle and Vancouver and digging deeper you find that Tim is a Geordie born and bred, which explains quite a ...
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MAGGIE HOLLAND – The Music Institute, Guildford – 18th November 2011

The return of Maggie Holland to this area always brings the old lags – sorry, distinguished members of the local folk scene, past and present – out in force. Indeed you could have put together a very respectable ceilidh band plus sound engineer, song spots and choice of callers from ...
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PETER GABRIEL – New Blood (Real World Records)

Watching Peter Gabriel’s stunning performance with the New Blood Orchestra on Jools Holland’s Later the other evening proved inspirational. OK, so the luxury of being a multi-millionaire can unburden you of the restraint of record company executives waiting their next fix of “…where’s the next hit single” but trust me, ...
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CHRIS RICKETTS BAND – The Cellars At Eastney – 1st November 2011

The Cellars At Eastney would be a decent pub if it wasn’t for the music. Or, to put it another way, it would be a decent music venue if it wasn’t for the layout, the crowding, the lack of decent seating and the section of the audience that doesn’t have ...
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PETER KNIGHT’S GIGSPANNER – Doors At Eight (Own Label GSCD002)

I must admit that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this gem of a recording from Steeleye Span’s virtuosic violin player Peter Knight and his henchmen Roger Flack (guitar) and Vincent Salzfas (percussion). Now, and without the merest hint of partiality…I used to play with Roger in The ...
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THEA GILMORE – Don’t Stop Singing – ISLAND/MIGHTY VILLAGE

I’m always a little wary about the posthumous raking over of an artist’s work. Sandy Denny has been well served by compilations and archive tapes over the years but even here there were some tracks that I do feel would have been better left unheard – mostly because of recording ...
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THE ONCE – Row Upon Row Of The People They Know (Borealis Records BCD212)

Not many Internationally established Canadian folk artists immediately spring to mind with the possible exceptions of Gordon Lightfoot, Leonard Cohen, Loreena McKennitt and Stan Rogers so to see a new ensemble from the land that brought us Cirque Du Soliel being heralded as ‘the next big thing’ was bound to ...
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KATE DOUBLEDAY – Pied Flycatcher – COPPER RECORDS CRCD003

Following two full-length albums, Kate’s new EP features three songs: delicate pastoral acoustic gems which embody her closeness to nature and her home in Wales. Kate herself plays flute, beautifully used on ‘The Dunes’ with its traditional-sounding chorus, and is joined by Marie Smith on cello and Daniel Wilkins on ...
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BRYONY GRIFFITH AND WILL HAMPSON – Lady Diamond (SELWYN MUSIC SYNMCD0007)

Bryony Griffith and Will Hampson have been working together for nearly twenty years, most recently in The Demon Barbers. I take this on trust since the photograph on the cover suggests that they began making music together as children. This is their recording debut as a duo. All the music ...
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JOHN DOYLE – Shadow And Light (Compass Records 4562)

John Doyle may, at first hearing appear an earnest, thought provoking artist but at least he cannot be accused of being dull. By that I mean he understands that with extensive knowledge of your subject matter you have in your hands the tools to inspire and in return will hopefully ...
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